Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My Favorite Job.

I've had a lot of jobs.  I may not have reached 30 yet, but I've had several jobs and they've been in a variety of fields.  I'm not a job-hopper, I just have had a hard time committing.  There are just so many interesting things to do out there in the world.  I've done a little bit of radio, retail, teaching school, staffing consultation, and newspaper work.  For the last four years I've been a Children's Director and that is something of which I'm very proud.  I think the fact that I've been at it for more than my average one year stint must be a signal that I'm growing up.  There is one job that has been and continues to bring me more joy, more satisfaction and more life than any other.  Around that workplace they just call me 'momma.'  Today is my little Judah's 2nd birthday.  It's hard to believe my little round-headed Charlie Brown baby is already two.  He is the most precious, squishy little guy that you could ever meet.  Until he head butts you in the face or throws a screaming, kicking fit, you'd think he was absolutely perfect.  He is perfect for me.  His big sister will be 4 in December.  She continues to amaze us with her funny little self.  She's smart and silly, optimistic and very sweet.  Her red hair seems to grow more red and I just love it.  They are definitely children, childish children, but they are also delightful in every way and I can't thank God enough for them.  I haven't blogged in a very long time, so bear with me as I gush a little bit over my babies.  There's more to this story, I promise.  Today we went to the park and played at lunch.  There were 3 other moms there with their kids.  I don't hang out with a lot of young moms. I just don't know a lot of people, and everyone in life seems to be so very busy.  Even though I didn't know these moms there was a sort of kinship in what we were doing.  It felt like we all knew that what we were doing was the most important thing that we could have possibly been doing in that moment.  It was like we might as well have been flying through space or hosting a White House gala.  It may not have looked like much, but in my heart I knew that those moments with my little ones were spent in the best way possible.  Some may not think that being with your kids is all that important. All I know is that they're going to be here when I'm gone.  I have to take every moment to raise them up to know Jesus and to make an impact in this world.  They are the arrows that God has given me that one day will go much further than I ever hope to.  They will fly higher and pierce greater darkness.  They will be more sharp, more valuable in the hands of the greatest warrior to have ever stepped onto the face of the earth.  For now I can't imagine what jobs they will have.  Quinn says she wants to be a horse trainer, horse rider and a princess.  Judah would be content to hang out at the park all day.  One thing of which I am assured.  As much as it is up to me, Quinn and Judah will know that my favorite job of all time is being their momma. This is just the job I've always wanted.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


I currently have 2 plants.  My precious plant from my Grandpa's funeral has gone to glory land.  I have a little plant of some sort on the front porch and Chris bought a beautiful orchid for me over the weekend, because he is wonderful.  My plant on the front porch has been somewhat neglected lately.  We have been in work mode for the last couple of months, so I haven't been giving it enough attention.  The orchid is doing great. All I have to do is put a piece of ice in the dirt when it looks dry and it should be good.  We'll see how that goes.  My rose bushes seem a little neglected too.  They were so robust when Spring first came.  The heat has sucked them dry and I think it's high time I get out there and hook up the sprinkler.  This is my declaration that I'm going to take better care of my plants.  I find that these are not the only things that have been neglected lately.  My Bible has also been neglected.  I have read it on my phone and tried sporadically to keep up with my Joyce Meyer devo (She can seem harsh, I know, but her teaching is solid!)  I'm going to sit down and get better about making God's Word a priority in my day, every day.  This one is short because Quinn just looked out the front window, onto the porch, and said, "Mom, why did you let that plant's leaves get down?"  I think that means it needs water.  Too funny. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Strong language warning: FEAR SUCKS.

Today I sent Chris a text message that read, "Read my e-mail.  I am so frustrated that I want to just forget this whole thing."  I'm not talking about our marriage or anything that is really important in the grand scheme.  I'm talking about this newspaper.  This thing is going really smoothly, but it is a lot of work.  Today I got an e-mail from the publisher at the paper where we are printing.  They ran into some snags when they tried to print our mock publish.  I froze.  It's that feeling that you get when you see the police officer in the rear view mirror with his lights on.  The little voice in my head started screaming, "YOU WERE RIGHT.  YOU CAN'T DO THIS.  IT'S EXACTLY HOW YOU THOUGHT IT WAS.  YOU'RE NOT TECHNICAL.  WHAT ARE YOU THINKING, TRYING TO START A NEWSPAPER?  IT'S GOING TO BE TERRIBLE AND ALL OF YOUR ADVERTISERS, IF YOU GET ANY, ARE GOING TO HATE IT."  And so I wanted to quit.  I wanted to roll up in a little ball, crawl under a rock and quit everything.  Judah has pink eye and an ear infection.  That voice says that it's my fault that he is sick. I don't wash his hands enough.  Maybe I don't clean the nursery enough, because I am, after all, the Children's Director.  I am sick of this voice. I've talked here about it before. I don't think I'm a fearful person, but I do know that fear tries to creep in and paralyze me on a regular basis.  Writing this out here helps me to feel better about things.  I have been afraid to say too much about the paper because of fear that it will fail.  In the words of Antoine, "That is dumb, really, really, dumb. For real."  So here's what happened.  I called the guy over production.  There were like two things that needed to be fixed. TWO THINGS!  He didn't laugh at me and call me an amateur.  He didn't tell me that it won't work.  The guy I spoke to was very kind.  He was very helpful.  He was very positive.  Thank you, God, for this sweet man.  Chris also spent his entire break encouraging me.  Thank you, God, for this sweet man, too.  I'm not going to let fear freeze me up any more.  Dang it!  I'm going to kick fear in the butt.  With God's help I don't want to spend one more second frozen up by fear.  I can do anything through Christ who gives me strength! Anything! Anything! Get on out of here fear.  You're not welcome.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Where I've been.

This is a random post, deserving of this random picture.

I almost feel guilty sitting here posting a blog.  We have been working like worker bees or worker ants or turkeys or something that works very hard.  Beavers, maybe?  Yes, I have been working like a beaver.  I know you don't really care about how busy we are, but I think that I should post something so that everyone (all six of you) do not think I have quit blogging.  I haven't.  I like this little corner of the internet that somehow belongs to me.  I don't understand how the internet works, really.  But I do like that I am the only one that can post whatever I want here and that somebody out there wants to read it.  Now, back to the being busy part of this blog.  Here's what's happening in the C&LSwonke House.  We are currently editing two weddings that will be delivered to their beautiful owners within the next week and a half.  This is pretty tedious work for Mr. Swonke.  I pray for him and ask him to change the laundry out and read articles to me while I am working on the newspaper.  I know he will get them done on time and they'll be amazing; I just think he needs less sleep than he thinks he does.  Six hours, really?   Along with said editing, we are getting ready to launch a newspaper.  This is a very detailed, involved, work-inducing process.  This is a process we've been working on for nearly 8 months.  It's kind of like birthing a baby, people.  All except for the terrible pain part.  This is not painful.  It is actually really fun.  I'll blog about this once it gets on the ground, because I am a little nervous about it all and don't want to get ahead of myself.  My friend Cat said that the only failure is when we don't take a risk.  These words have been so good for me.  They've encouraged me when I've felt afraid about all of this.  Thank you, Cat!  We're taking a risk.  Risky business!  That's us!  Risky business takers!  Risky business starters!  Maybe just goofy.  Along with editing many, many pictures and starting a newspaper from nothingness, we are also continuing on with our regular work and church life.  Chris works 40+ hours at the salt mine and I work an unknown number of hours, a lot from home, some from my church office, loving all of the children in the world.  When we are not involved in any of the above activities, we are trying to be faithful to go to the gym.  Chris is very good at this.  He gets up at 5AM and goes to do a regimented workout that our Pastor/friend put together for him.  By the way, I think our pastors have to be some of the most health minded people I've ever known.  I think that is very good.  Go Sean and Lori Jo, go!  I am thankful for how they have inspired us to take care of our bodies.  I went and ran/walked a mile and a half and did the eliptical machine thing for about 1/3 of a mile.  It was good.  Now I stink.  So, yes, Chris is doing very well with going to the gym.  I'm going 2-3 times a week.  My goal is 3 times a week.  I have lots of excuses.  "The shorts that I like are not clean; I cannot go."  Chris says, "Put on some of my shorts and GO."  He doesn't think I'm fat.  I think he just gets tired of hearing me whine about not getting to my goal weight and he loves me and doesn't want me to have reason to whine.  I don't deserve him.   "I can't take my phone, therefore I won't have music.  I don't want to go if I can't have music," I say.  "Take my phone and GO," he says.  "I will go, but I won't be happy about it," I say.  "GO and be happy about it," says he.  And so I went and I'm glad I did.  Along with typing and editing and exercising and loving children and answering phones, we are also loving our own little babies.  Oh, how I love these kids.  They are just the sweetest, most precious gifts that God could have ever given to us.  Quinn is convinced we will be having another baby.  She thinks she will have a sister.  And guess what, folks, she will be having a sister.  Someday. Maybe.  I am laughing, as I think of the people who might read this and be tricked into thinking we're having another baby right now. Hahahahaha! It's okay.  I don't like to be tricked either.  I'm sorry.  That's pretty much all that's happening right now.  Loving God, working hard, loving the wonderful family that God has placed us in and given us, trying our best to love people how Jesus does.  A happy, full, life folks.  That is just what I've always wanted, indeed.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Growing Up Lauren.

An impromptu photo shoot in the Swonke house.  Aww, geez.  So dang cute.

This blog has been in the back of my mind for a while and I just now have a chance to sit down and put it in letters.  I have had the worst time in the world growing up.  It's not that my growing up has been bad; it was so very good and that is where the difficulty lies.  A few weekends ago my babies and I went to be with my parents and two of my sisters.  This is one of my favorite things.  While I was there I heard my 14 year old niece giving my 19 year old niece a hard time about the 19 year old having told the 14 year old to quiet down during their dollar store adventure.  "What's happening to you?  Are you growing up or something?", she asked, jokingly.  I remember when my niece and nephews would ask me the same questions.  They couldn't understand why I didn't feel like going outside to rush down the pine straw covered hill on a box when I was home for a weekend from college.  Even though I couldn't seem to shake what was happening inside, I cringed at the thought that I was starting to grow up.  And now, 27 years old, married and two babies, I'm just starting to be okay with being an adult.  I was talking to my Mom a short time ago and said, "I guess I'm grown up now."  Her response was, "Yes, when you have two children and are married, I think that means you're grown up."  I read a poem when I was in UIL at some point in school.  I can't find it, but I remember it was about a little kid that realized that even though she was 12, she was also 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3,2 and 1.  I feel that way pretty much every day of my life.  Even though I'm 27, I feel every other age that has brought me to this point.  Chris said something really profound about all of this.  One day I was crying about growing up, about my Grandparents changing, my Grandpa passing away, my parents having difficult health issues and such.  He said something like this.  "Lauren, it's great that your childhood was so good that you don't want to leave it.  The only thing is, now it's time for us to make our kids lives good like that."  Even though I would say I knew this already, it was like a light bulb went off in the back of my mind.  It was the light bulb that was previously hanging over the darkened room where I went to cry and ask God why it is that we have to grow up.  All the while the answers were right in front of me and I just couldn't see them.  It's time for me to grow up for many reasons, but two of the most precious little round faced reasons are my sweet babies.  They deserve a childhood with wonderful parents that teach them about a loving family, about a God that loves them so viciously that he gave his only Son, about how to live this life and be a blessing, not a bum.  They deserve special times with their grandparents, just like I had.  They deserve sweet visits with their cousins, like we had this weekend.  They deserve golden, country days with their funny little friends.  They deserve everything, every ounce, of me that I can give.  Being a parent to my kids like my parents were to me as a kid is "just what I've always wanted."  And that, my friends, takes me being an adult.  It's okay to grow up.  Those past years don't go away when you cross the threshold of adulthood.  I know that even though I'm 27, I'm also 26, 25, 24, 23, 22, 21, 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1.     

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


I always seem to get overwhelmed by the work of serving God.  What video will I use?  What song will we sing?  What activity can I do to be active enough to say that I'm active enough so that He will be pleased with my activity?  Then I remember.  I remember that it's just about Him.  He was a Jewish carpenter that really lived and really suffered and really died and really came back to life.  For me.  He lived here and bled here and died here and rose again and then ascended to heaven.  It's not just a story.  It was for real.  He calls me to love people because I'm loving them for Him.  It doesn't have to be hard work.  He just walked around healing people and loving them on his way through town.  He didn't have a catchy video or a really well written song.  He just loved.  He just loves me.  And I just love Him.  Jesus Christ.  He makes me want to be more like Him every day.  I watched some videos in my video searching tonight.  They are just songs put to videos about the life of Jesus, a curly haired Jewish man.  That Jewish Man was amazing.  I need Him.  I get into a really bad mode where I just need to sit down and watch a video with a pretend Jesus healing sad looking blind folks and trashy prostitutes to remind me that I still need Him.  My God, I need Him.  I hate that I go through some seasons where I feel like I can skate through with just a story book idea of him, rather than loving Him and needing Him so much I just want to cry my eyeballs out.  There's no substitute for knowing Jesus.  There's no activity that fills my soul. Maybe you need to be reminded too.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Om3mm2dv--k

Friday, February 17, 2012

Because I said so.

One of my favorite pics from kid's camp a couple of years ago.  I love him.

In honor of Valentine's week, my thoughts on marriage.  A couple of weeks ago I was in the grocery store line, wrestling Judah and discouraging Quinn from rifling through the gum and candy that she was in arms reach of, when I started noticing the many magazine and tabloid covers around me.  It seems like everyone in Hollywood is getting a divorce.  Some days I get frustrated with my husband and there have even been days when I've thought about what it would be like if I just left.  I know.  That's horrible.  I'm sorry if that is shocking and offensive.  I don't have any intention of leaving Chris and I don't entertain those thoughts, because I know they originate from the enemy of our marriage.  However, sometimes they do come and I wonder what it would be like.  I think it would be so incredibly sad.  After these 4.5 years of marriage and 1 year before that of dating and engagement, it would just be desperately sad.  So, how do these Hollywood folks just walk away like they do.  I saw pictures of Demi and Ashton.  Others screamed things about Jennifer Aniston's amazing abs, which made me think about her broken marriage to Brad Pitt.  How can a person love someone enough to promise their life and then just walk away?  I know that there are circumstances where a spouse is endangered in a relationship (time to get away) or when someone has been unfaithful.  I understand that those must be really difficult, and I can't imagine what I would do in those instances.  But I really don't think those are the majority of situations.  I think people must just get tired of cleaning up after each other.  I think they must just get frustrated with the little things that we all get frustrated about.  I could gripe until kingdom come about "pushing your chair under the table so that Judah doesn't see it and want to climb onto the table and wreck shop after dinner" or "please use the hamper and not just pile your shorts on top of it."  I know that he feels the same way about me when I forget to raise the steering wheel and he cracks his knee when he gets in the car.  There are a lot more where that came from, but my memory fails me. :) Those are all such shallow things, really.  I have promised that I would be with Chris for the rest of my days.  I understand how the trouble starts though.  You start thinking about those little annoyances and then it's down hill from there.  I think the biggest thing is, people don't ask God for help.  We need God in our marriage.  I can be selfish and disrespectful.  Chris can be sarcastic and smarty pants.  We really need Him.  I don't say any of this to say we have a bad marriage.  We don't.  We have a really, really good marriage.  But without God, we're hopeless just like any other couple without God.  I think it all boils down to the fact that I need God in every single area of my life.  There is not one area that I look at and say, "God, I think I've got this."  Parenting, work, marriage, creativity, finances, fun, time management.  I need his help every second of the day.  When I promised my life to Chris, I meant it.  I will stay with him because I said so, and with God's help.  For all of the non-chair-pushing and non-hamper-using, he is 1,000 times more wonderful.  I love his hairy face.  I need his relaxed, easy going spirit to chill me out when I'm tense and overly worried about things.  I just love who he is.  Next time those thoughts try to creep in, I will stand firm and tell that disgusting voice of discouragment that I'm not going anywhere.  Chris is forever "just what I've always wanted."    

Friday, February 3, 2012


Picture was borrowed from some other website.

For the last year we have had our DIRECTV on hold.  We've had other things that were more important to take care of financially, so the TV has been used only for occasional movies and such.  It has been nice having the television silenced for a year.  The extra noise of television sometimes makes me want to throw something, so I've enjoyed it being quiet.  A couple of weeks ago we decided to buy an antenna.  We would like to know what's happening in the world, outside of Internet news.  We bought a really cool antenna and now we pick up all the network stations, a lot of Spanish stations and a few Vietnamese.  And other than the initial cost of the antenna, it's FREE.  It is also very clear, a far cry from the antenna we had when I was a kid.  This was the kind that we turned on a pole, through the window at times.  That's a funny memory.  This is not the purpose of this blog, as I'm sure you're wondering what our new antenna has to do with the title of this blog.  Well, here goes.
     With the re-introduction of television into our home, I've been concerned that we would have it on all the time.  Because we have limited options and no "GUIDE" option on the remote, that hasn't been a problem so far.  However, while we are watching TV, there are so many commercials. I am finding them more funny than I used to.  I guess it's because I haven't watched TV in a long time. The other day I saw one for a coffee drink at McDonald's.  It was with little old men, wearing toupees and checking out a little old lady.  They got hedged out by a guy who looked like the guy from the Dos Equis commercials.  It was so cute. Chris and I watched it intently and then smiled when it was over.  You would think, based on this commercial, that fast food is warm and fuzzy and good for all.  If only that were true.  Have you seen the pink slime picture?  In case you haven't, that is the picture at the beginning of the blog.  Until last August, McDonald's used this stuff in their hamburgers.  Oh. My. Gosh.  Are you kidding me?  What are we eating when we eat fast food, really?  Does anyone know?  This has made me spend more time thinking about what we are eating around here.  What am I feeding my kids?  Did you also hear about the girl who collapsed and then admitted to having eaten only chicken nuggets her whole life?  Quinn loves chicken nuggets.  For a while, that was all we could get her to eat.  Lord have mercy.  I'm going grocery shopping today and I'm determined to find some food that will actually satisfy our nutritional needs.   The kids had an appointment with the doctor last week for check-ups.  When we talked about food, she suggested just gently inviting the babies to eat veggies and if they don't eat them, move on.  Yeah, right.  We can't go on with the rest of America, eating pink slime in our food and croaking over at 17 from a diet of only chicken nuggets.  We are laying down the law in the Swonke house and there's going to be a lot more veggie eating going on.  Well, I suppose we'll see about this.  I'm just so sicked out by the pink slime and so determined to do a better job about our eating.  Health is important.  Good health for my family is "just what I've always wanted." 

Friday, January 27, 2012

We need a cat.

I just realized that we are the only unit in our extended families that does not have a pet.  My sisters have Chuchi, a wild little fluffy dog, a Boston Terrier with an unknown name, Puddles the lab, Ashes, the lab, and a cat to be described later.  My parents have Bandita, a nice dog that was a stray who found a home.  My in laws have Lucy, a friendly farm dog.  Chris's brother has Fritz and Liberty.  His sister has a little lap dog.  Other than Chris's Mom, who lives in an apartment, we're the only ones who do not own a pet.  That's okay with me.  We aren't really "animal people."  However, I would like to have one good cat.  Growing up, I pretty much had a cat at all times.  We had a cat named Henrietta when I was very little.  I remember one named Gerri Cat.  This one was an especially good cat.  My favorite cats are orange.  This cat was orange, friendly and a very good listener.  At this same house, we had Elmo and Baby Cat.  They both met a sad end, as we lived near a main highway. But they were sweet friends while they were around.  My Grandparents always had a cat too.  One cat had kittens in the attic; it's baby fell down into the wall and my Grandpa had to cut a hole in the wall behind a kitchen cabinet to get it out.  His name was Waldo.   Last weekend, I stayed at my sister's house, while Chris was out of town.  They have a really nice cat.  The cat's name is Mittens and it has neat coloring.  It's sort of orange, black and white, striped and spotted.  It likes to sneak in the house when you open the door.  I know a lot of people don't like cats.  They say they're unfriendly and snobbish.  Quinn is sitting here, as I type and read aloud. When I said they're "unfriendly and snobbish," she said, "but not all cats."  That's right, Quinn.  Not all cats are unfriendly and snobbish.  The truth is, I don't really want a pet that needs me desperately.  I'm not a big fan of dogs.  I don't want to be licked, jumped on or barked at, really.  I also don't want to be smelled.  These are things that I particularly don't care for about dogs.  Cats don't do these things.  They just meow, prowl around, sleep a lot, and sometimes rub against your leg if they want to be petted.  They are not obnoxious, most times.  We don't really live in a great place for pets, unless they live inside.  Not being a pet person, I'm even more not an inside pet person.  So, we carry on without a pet.  Someday, we'll have a cat though.  This is a defense of cats.  I'm laughing now, because it's ridiculous to write something in defense of cats.  I guess someone should defend them.  The purpose of this blog is to help me determine things that I do want in life and things that I don't.  I just know that a cat is a pet that is "just what I've always wanted".

Monday, January 16, 2012


I picked up a little side hobby when I was in college.  One day I was driving home in my Grandparent's neighborhood, on my way back to grandma's after a hard day at school, looking forward to dinner, when I saw something that was surprising.  There were two metal sculpture yard reindeer sitting out by the road where the trash would normally sit.  "Why," I thought, "are these quality reindeer out here by the road, soon to be crushed into dust at the landfill?"  This is how it started.  I stopped the car right in the middle of the road, jumped out, as if I was committing a crime, threw open my trunk and loaded up the little guys.  I felt a bit of a rush as I drove away.  I called my Mom and told her about my finds and I couldn't wait until they made it home to be wrapped in lights and displayed in the front yard at Christmas.  Since then there have been many such experiences.  I've found some really cool stuff this way.  In our current neighborhood, there are lots of young families, just like ours.  They sit out cool stuff sometimes.  I've gotten a couple of ride on cars for the kids, a turtle sand box, a really awesome toy box and I'm sure some other things I'm not thinking of.  I like this hobby because it is free, a little bit exciting and makes you feel good for recycling things that would otherwise go straight into the earth.  I'm not a big "save the earth" person. However, if I can help out by getting some cool swag out of the trash, I'll do my part.  Once I wasn't 100% sure that an item was meant for the trash, so I went back and put a note on the door that read, "I took your little car.  If you want it back, call me at xyz number."  When you have this hobby, you have to be courteous.  You can't run around thieving stuff out of people's yards.  It has to clearly be set out by the road, intended for the trash guys.  I have also contributed to the other "treasure seekers" in my time.  I love to put something out by the road and then later walk by the window to find that it is gone.  I once got rid of a horrible Gazelle exercise thing that way. I put it out by the road and like 5 minutes later looked back out.  It had magically disappeared.  I got rid of a desk this way.  My most recent contribution was our artificial Christmas tree.  Judah did a number on the tree this year, breaking limbs, shaking the "pine needles" off of the branches.  I put that sucker out by the road and the next morning it was gone.  You're welcome.  I don't know if this is the hobby that is "just what I've always wanted."  I do know that it makes me smile and laugh at myself.  Everyone needs to do that I think.  I saved my latest find for last, because it is probably one of the better things that I've found and because it's kind of a funny story.  Our neighbors across the street had this tree on their porch for the entire Christmas season.  I admired it from here and even mentioned it once when we were in JCPenney and I saw similar ones in their Christmas merchandising.  After Christmas, lo and behold, this beautiful tree was lying neatly upon some black bags out by the street on trash day.  One of the ornaments is scratched and will have to be replaced, but other than that it is perfect.  It has a nice solid frame so even if I wanted to re-purpose it, it's a great find. I will not be putting it on my porch though.  That would just be weird.  In this business, if you're going to swipe from your visible neighbors, you can't display their trash around your place.  However, this will be beautiful on my Mom's front porch next Christmas, many miles from here.  It may seem strange to give things that you've found in the trash to your Mom, but I think it is fantastic!  What began with a Christmas discovery, continues today with another score for Christmas decor!  Keep an eye out, you never know what you'll find.    

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Old Writings # 3

This is the last post of old writings from times past.  I have posts for the new year up my sleeve, but I need to go ahead and finish this retro-series.  This is the beginning of a writing that I started a while ago.  It's about early memories in my home town.  I love that place.  These memories go back to before I started school. I had to be like 4 years old at this point.  It's brief, but then I'll add some thoughts to finish it out.  I just saw this the other day and felt like it deserved to be dusted off. 

                My first memories are from Airport Road.  We had a little white house with two bedrooms, a field with a horse, and a hickory tree in the front yard.  Mr. Robicheaux paid me in coins to pick up pecans for him.  I thought I was rich. There’s something cool about being a little bitty kid in a small town.  You feel really safe and a little bit invincible.  I have three older sisters, so it was always exciting to look out the front windows, past the front porch and onto Airport Road to see the bus come to a stop.  They were home! 
One of my first memories is when it snowed. I think it was like 1987.  I was 3 or 4 when it happened, anyway.  My mom stayed at home with me and she also babysat my little friend.  In this little house, I remember watching Full House.  I remember taking a nap to the sounds of Roger Whittaker singing Christmas songs.  We had that on tape and I loved those songs.  I remember birthday parties and once when my dad was thrown off of the horse and broke his arm. My mom fell during this incident and was poked in the brow with a stick.  We were glad it missed her eye.  I remember Melissa standing on the playhouse with her friend and telling me they were leaving to fly off to heaven.  They would flap their wings and I cried.  Once we thought mom had been bitten by a black widow spider.  I can remember seeing my Dad pray for my Mom.  She made it through and I suppose it wasn't a deadly spider bite after all.  I can remember Shawn and Jay sitting on the front porch with the light on and Melissa flickering the lights to tell Shawn to come in.  I remember one Christmas where I got boots and someone got chocolate covered cherries.  I remember hiding to eat Crisco.  Strange.  I don't think I ate much of that.  It just looked so pretty and like it would be candy. It wasn't.  I remember we had a ficus tree in the dining room.  We had kittens while we lived in this house.  We had a little brown playhouse outside; I think my Daddy built it.  I think that times were hard in this house; I was too little to know some of the details of how things were.  All I really remember is that it was warm with the relationship of a family that loved and continues to love each other very much.  Good, good memories. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Old Writings # 2

I know it's a new year, so it seems weird to post something old.  I need to finish what I started, though.  Here is the second entry of three writings from the last few years.  I've been thinking about my Grandpa a lot lately and so I think this is fitting.  This is something I came home and wrote after an afternoon with my Grandpa.  He passed away about 10 months after I wrote this.  I'm so glad that I took a minute to put down my thoughts.  He was and continues to be such an amazing man.  I miss him so much, but I know that he is well and complete and whole.  I post this not to be a downer, but because it is something that I wrote and that means a lot to me.     

        With a sad look on his face, my grandpa looked at me and wanted to know how I ended up with the task of babysitting, or “old man sitting,” as he called it.  He is 87 years old and feeble.  His body is no longer sturdy and neither is his memory.  Suffering from early stages of Alzheimer’s has stolen his faith in himself and a good piece of his dignity.  
      This is a man who once was a highly capable plumber, avid Houston sports fan, excellent crossword puzzle completer and faithful deacon and food pantry volunteer for the church.  He looked different sitting there that fall afternoon.  He was much thinner.  His once clean shaven face was now grizzly with a grey beard.  He looked tired.  And now he was asking me why I was being punished by having to stay with him while my sister took my Grandma grocery shopping.  My heart sank.
                “This isn’t punishment, Grandpa,” I said.  “It’s my pleasure to be with you.”  He didn’t believe me, I could tell.  “That’s nice of you to say,” he said.  It was as if he was implying that I didn’t mean it.  “You’re the only Grandpa I’ve ever had,” I said, as I fought back the tears.  “You’re the best. You let me come to see you every summer for two weeks when I was a kid.  You let me come and live with you guys for 3 years while I was in college. I would do anything for you.”  He straightened up a little and said, “Oh?”  He was seeing if he could remember those summers or those college years.  I don’t think he could.  “Well, that’s just what family does for each other, I suppose,” he said slowly.  I was glad that I had the chance to assert my care for Grandpa that day, but I just wished he really knew how I valued him. 
                This has gotten me to thinking about self-worth and the value of life.  I’ve determined that there has to be a way that we understand our self worth that goes beyond our present state at any given time.  There are certainly times when we feel worthless, but that doesn’t make us worthless.  There are times when we feel unimportant, but that feeling can’t be allowed to devalue our worth.  The key, I believe, is that when things cause us to feel worthless, unimportant or devalued, we have to be reminded of the great potential that lies within.
                Regardless of our stage in life, there is always potential for more good to come from our days.  This is true of the unborn child.  This is true of the 87 year old man.  As long as there is breath in our bodies there is a staggering potential to create, enjoy and bring enjoyment.  This revelation is something missing from our society, I’m afraid.  Teenagers take their lives because of momentary relationship problems.  Elderly are left to die alone in nursing homes.  Unborn children are never given the chance to discover their purposes.  And all because we forget about the great potential that all of us have for good.      
                I’m saddened by my Grandpa’s inability to remember his days in the past when he had great purpose and was accomplishing great things.  More than that I wish that he could realize that he still has great purpose.  If he has three days left or 13 years, there are still so many things that he can see and do in this life.  There’s so much that he can experience.  There’s so much hope and life that he has to offer.  If only he could remember.